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Barak: A Deal with Syria Means Leaving the Golan Heights


Former Labor party Prime Minister Ehud Barak stated a deal with Syria means Israel withdrawing from the Golan Heights. The former prime minister and IDF chief of staff explained that this was the reality during his and other previous administrations, including Rabin, Peres and Netanyahu, adding nothing has changed. Barak added that anyone who believes Israel can remain on the Golan Heights and achieve a peace agreement with Syria "does not know what world he is living in."

Syria's Weapon of Mass Distraction


Syrian President Bashar al Assad has conceded that Syria possesses chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction and will refuse to destroy them as long as Israel remains armed, the British Telegraph newspaper reported.

"We are a country which is occupied," said Assad, ostensibly referring to the Golan, "and from time to time we are exposed to Israeli aggression. It is natural for us to look for means to defend ourselves." Assad downplayed the resources and motivation necessary to obtain the deadly arsenal Syria is purported to possess. "It is not difficult to get most of these weapons anywhere in the world and they can be obtained at any time."

Assad said that Libya's surprise announcement last month in which Libya announced it would dismantle its chemical and nuclear weapons program a "correct step." The Syrian dictator added a call for the international community to support the proposal that Syria presented to the United Nations last year, which calls for removing all nuclear and chemical weapons from the Middle East. This proposal was largely viewed as an attempt to put pressure on Israel to disarm. "Unless this applies to all countries, we are wasting our time."

Meanwhile, Nizar Nayyouf, an exiled Syrian journalist, wrote a letter published by the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, saying he knows the three sites where Iraq's sought after weapons are kept. According to Nayyouf, the weapons are being stored in tunnels dug under the town of al-Baida near the city of Hama in northern Syria. He said the tunnels are part of an underground factory, built by the North Koreans, for producing Syrian Scud missiles. The letter claims Iraqi chemical weapons and long-range missiles are being stored in these tunnels.

Another site is the village of Tel Snan, north of the town of Salamiyah, where there is a big Syrian air force base. The third site, according to Nayyouf, is the city of Shenshar on the Syrian border with Lebanon, south of the city of Homs. According to the report the commanders of Saddam Hussein's Special Republican Guard organized the transfer of Iraqi weapons to Syria.

Nayyouf was a founding member of a human rights organization, the Committee for the Defense of Democratic Freedom and Human Rights (CDF), which had been banned by the Syrian government shortly after its establishment. He was arrested and jailed in 1992 and was released during May 2001.

In an interesting twist, Amr Moussa, who heads the Arab League, declared Thursday that "Syria has no weapons of mass destruction but it and other West Asian countries have the right to acquire defensive measures against Israel's nuclear capabilities."

In Moussa's interview with Dubai's Al Arabiya he said the U.S. was wrong to assume Syria had nuclear weapons without proof. "Syria does not have weapons of mass destruction or nuclear weapons," he said. "We can't presume Syria has nuclear weapons just like that, that's wrong. There is just one country with WMDs in West Asia - Israel. And in that case, perhaps in the near future, other countries will try - and it is their right - to protect themselves against such weapons."

Report: Iran Renews Flow of Weapons Via Syria to Hizbullah.

By Ha'aretz

After a break of nearly a full year, Iran has resumed supplying Hizbullah terrorists in southern Lebanon with weapons and supplies transported via Syria, according to a report Thursday evening on Channel 1 news.

According to the report, Syria dispatched a number of planes to Iran last week posing as humanitarian aid transports for Iranian earthquake victims. When the flights returned to Syria, they were filled with weaponry, which was unloaded in Damascus and transferred to the Hizbullah in Lebanon. Details of the weapons transfer became known to the United States, which demanded an explanation from Syria.

Israeli Politicians Push for Resumption of Talks with Syria

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Senior Israeli politicians and army generals are pushing the government to seize what they see as an opportunity to re-start peace talks with Syria. Their statements follow a recent overture from Syrian President Bashir al-Assad, which they say should not be ignored.

Israeli Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told Israeli Radio that now is the time to explore a resumption of peace negotiations with Syria. Netanyahu, a former right-wing prime minister, says the situation today is completely different than it was when he made his own attempts to reach a peace agreement with Assad's father in the 1990s. He indicated that Syria is under much more pressure to alter its stance, following the toppling of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

Netanyahu said Syria needs peace with Israel during a time that despotic regimes are being removed around the world. He said this could be to Israel's advantage. Netanyahu also said that Damascus is no longer in a position to ask Israel to withdraw completely from the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau captured from Syria during the 1967 war.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom also told Israel Radio that it is time to seriously examine Syria's recent offer to resume negotiations. He said this is a way of signaling to other Arab countries that Israel is interested in making peace. But like Netanyahu, the Foreign Minister refused to commit himself to a withdrawal from the Golan Heights as part of the price for reaching peace with Syria. Shalom said Syria's intentions need to be examined seriously, and that talks should be held without preconditions.

Senior Israeli military commanders have appealed to the government to put Assad to the test, following his statement last month indicating a willingness to re-start peace talks. Israeli media reported that Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff General Moshe Ya'alon and three of his deputies have said there should be a positive response to Assad's gesture.

Salesman Arrested for Theft of Mikveh Funds


An ultra-Orthodox resident of Bnei Brak is in police custody, having admitted to breaking into mikva'ot (ritual baths) in communities in Judea and Samaria, then stealing their funds.

The suspect is employed as a salesman who travels to communities in Judea and Samaria. He told police that after completing his work in a specific community, he would break into the mikva'ot. He added that he does not need the money, but is a kleptomaniac.

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